Question: In the last verse of Baqara Sûra, which purports, “Our Rabb, do not burden us, as You burdened those before us, with a lo ad that we do not have the strength to bear!” it is made known that past ummats (communities) were burdened with such loads. Is it compatible with Allah’s justice to lay on them such loads which are beyond their power to observe, even if the case is not so with us?
It needs to be explained in two respects:
The first one is in respect of that Allahu ta’âlâ’s commanding something which is beyond what people can bear is compatible with justice. The second is in respect of the meaning expressed in the verse.
1. In respect of justice:
The justice for Allahu ta’âlâ means His using His own property and possessions. And injustice is trespassing on others’ property or possessions. Allahu ta’âlâ alone is the Creator of the universe and all that is in it. Since there is no creator other than He and since nobody has anything, our Rabb’s deeds are not acts of encroaching upon others’ property and possessions. Concerning His actions, it cannot be said, “They are not compatible with justice.” He can make a formerly unlawful thing lawful later, and vice versa. He is the Possessor of sovereignty. Nobody can call Him to account.
Allahu ta’âlâ does not have to do what is good and useful for His creatures, nor does He have to reward some people or torture some others. It would befit His superiority and benevolence if He would bring all sinners to Paradise. And it would become His justice if He would put all of those who obey and worship Him in Hell. (Belief and Islam)
To say, “If Allahu ta’âlâ wishes, He can put disbelievers in Paradise and Believers in Hell” does not mean that He will put them so. It means that nobody could interfere with His work and it would not be incompatible with His justice if He put them so. But He has promised that He will send those who have îmân and do righteous deeds to Paradise. He has also stated that He will not go back on His word.
If He does not wish, no one can become a disbeliever or a Believer. The purport of an âyah (Qur’anic verse) is as follows:
(Allah guides to the hidâyah whomever He wills, and He leaves in heresy whomever He wills.) [Sûrat-u Ibrâhîm, 4]
Allahu ta’âlâ does not make a person a disbeliever by force. This verse is one of the proofs that all deeds are done by Allahu ta’âlâ.
The purport of another verse is as follows:
(It is Allah who creates you and what you do.) [Sûrat-us-Saffât, 96]
2. In respect of the meaning contained in the verse:
It is written in Tafsîr al-Qurtubî:
Qatada says concerning this matter, “It means, ‘Do not make the task difficult for us, as you did it for people before us.’” Dahhak said, “It means, ‘Do not charge us with doing deeds that we are unable to carry through and the performance of which is beyond our power.’” Suddî said, “The things that are difficult to bear herein are those heavy burdens that were imposed on the Children of Israel.” [For example, when a limb was smeared with substances that were prescribed to be dirty, washing that part would not make it clean. It was necessary to cut it off. (Baydâwî)]
Allahu ta’âlâ declared, “The Messenger, who is an ummî prophet, unloads the heavy burdens from their backs and breaks the fetters” (Sûrat-ul-A’râf, 157). Ummî means illiterate (one who cannot read or write). It is a mu’jiza (miracle) that the Messenger of Allah, though being ummî, possessed all the perfections of knowledge. (Baydâwî)